RN Careers in Connecticut: Becoming an RN

Connecticut’s registered nurses are providing care at the bedside and in the operating room. They are taking on new and evolving roles and often educating themselves to a very high level.

Becoming a Connecticut RN

Licensing is essential. Prospective Connecticut RNs begin by matriculating into nursing degree programs. Connecticut has RN degree programs at the associate and bachelor’s level (RN programs in Connecticut). There is one direct entry master’s program. All approved programs include the most essential RN-level coursework. (One will, however, find a number of Connecticut positions that include the notation BSN required – that signifies a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.)

The graduate will need to pass the NCLEX, a nationwide test designed to ensure the person has mastered the essentials for competent, safe practice.

Voluntary certifications, denoting expertise in particular roles and settings, can also be valuable once one has moved beyond the entry level. These come from third party organizations. St. Vincent’s Medical Center notes that their nurses are encouraged to seek certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Hospitals and Ambulatory Surgical Centers

Hospitals are the largest employers of RNs nationwide. One will find RNs in the emergency room and in many specialized wards and units.

Among the many possible roles: assisting with operations and with pre- and post-op care. Varying levels and types of expertise are required. The Board has provided a declaratory statement that appropriately trained and supervised RNs can act as first attendants. (This is a role that could instead be filled by a physician assistant of medical student.)

Roles evolve. A growing number of modern nursing jobs call on the ability to coordinate care, carry out fine-tuned assessments, and utilize critical thinking to improve outcomes. A late 2017 job search turns up Connecticut organizations looking for nurses who can carry out pre-operative assessments, provide post-anesthesia care, coordinate various aspects of recipient-centered transplant care, and carry out duties in operating room settings. Some jobs entail working with a more specialized client population.

Some ads for perioperative nursing are placed by outpatient surgical centers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) this is a setting where, nationwide, jobs are increasing at a rate above the norm.

Premier Connecticut Hospitals

There are facilities and organizations where burnout is less likely to occur. They train and orient their new nurses well and also provide benefits and programs that help them balance work with other aspects of life. Hospitals that have been awarded magnet status by the American Nurses Credentialing Center are known for providing excellent nursing care — and for providing well for their nurses. The following is a look at some of Connecticut’s premier facilities and what they’re offering:

Yale New Haven Health notes job shadowing opportunities available from the nursing student stage on; these give nurses and future nurses a glimpse of what it’s like on different wards. (https://www.ynhh.org/careers/career-areas/nursing/nursing-career-development.aspx). The organization offers a one-year residency program to assist with the transition from nursing student to nurse. Unit-specific orientations are typically 12 weeks but can be longer. Nurses can participate in grand rounds. There are other educational options including formal education opportunities and tuition assistance.

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Other benefits include comprehensive medical care, pension and annuity plans, and family medical leave. One will find on-site day care and fitness facilities.

Bristol notes they not only offer the more traditional insurance programs (medical, dental, vision) but allow employees to opt into programs like pet insurance. There is a wellness program in place; it includes biometrics screening.

Greenwich Hospital describes awards and recognitions that are tied to additional monetary compensation (https://www.greenwichhospital.org/careers/working-here/recognition.aspx).

Yes, the magnets are hiring. St. Vincent’s Medical Center notes its low turnover rate. Still, with an employment of 900 nurses employed in inpatient, outpatient, and settings, there are vacancies. Late 2017 found the parent organization advertising staff nursing positions in Medical-Surgical, Cardiac Cath, Telemetry, Labor and Delivery, Newborn Nursery, and Behavioral Health. There were other positions for qualified RNs, including Nurse Manager, Clinical Nurse Leader, and Educator-Nursing. This latter group includes positions where a master’s was either required or preferred.

Long-Term Care

A significant segment of the RN workforce is providing or overseeing care in settings like nursing homes and home health agencies. The Visiting Nurse Association, an organization with a 70+ year Connecticut history, still employs some (http://www.theday.com/article/20170503/NWS01/170509980). There are of course many newer companies.

There are exciting developments, too, in the long-term care arena. The Connecticut Culture Change Coalition has the stated mission of making nursing homes into places that people want to live and work (http://www.qualidigm.org/our-work/connecticut-culture-change-coalition).

It can be exciting to work for an organization that values person-centered care. CT Post recently told the story of an RN who got to accompany her 93-year old hospice patient to a day out (http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Decatur-hospice-patient-treated-to-makeover-day-12424660.php#photo-14693378). The original idea had been for lunch out, but when the patient expressed that she didn’t feel she looked good enough, her RN and aide managed to arrange for a free makeover.

Average RN Salary in Connecticut and Career Outlook

Connecticut’s registered nurses averaged $37.63 an hour ($78,270 for a year of full-time work) in 2016.

6% job growth has been projected for the 2014 to 2024 decade.

Advancement to the Highest Levels

Some nurses pursue graduate education and take on health provider roles such as nurse midwife or family nurse practitioner; these roles are higher paid and are reported separately by the BLS.

Nurses with ‘macro’ interests – administration, public health, research – can go far as well. Daily Freeman Business reported in ‘People on the Move’ that Health Quest Systems had hired a nurse with decades of leadership experience and a master’s in nursing administration as their chief operating officer (http://www.dailyfreeman.com/article/DF/20171210/NEWS/171219975). She left behind a position as chief operating officer at a Connecticut medical center to oversee operations in Florida and Alabama. Sacred Heart Health System has provided an interview (https://sacred-heart.org/page.asp?ID=830). In an earlier time, she was an emergency department head nurse. She reports that her first boss out in the nursing world stressed that to go as far as she could herself, she needed to develop others.

Additional Resources

Connecticut boasts several specialized nursing groups and associations (http://www.ctnurses.org/Main-Menu-Category/Nursing-Partners/State-Nursing-Groups).

How to Become a Medical Assistant in Connecticut

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